Does Pentagon still have UFO program? That's a bit mysterious

SEPT. 14 2016 FILE

The UFO program was a pet project of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid

"We don't know the answers but we have plenty of evidence to support asking the questions".

Documents show how the unit, working with a Las Vegas aerospace company run by Robert Bigelow, Reid's long-time billionaire friend, investigated sightings of aircraft moving at high speeds with no signs of propulsion or that hovered mysteriously.

"I'm not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going", Reid told the newspaper in an interview.

"I left to find an environment where investigating these phenomena is priority number one", he said.

The shadowy program ended in 2012, according to the Defense Department, but the New York Times reported that it is still up and running - with officials continuing to study incidents brought to their attention by United States military service members while performing their regular duties at the Pentagon.

The footage was released by the US Department of Defense, particularly its secret Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), the existence of which was finally revealed this past Saturday.

Current and former Pentagon officials confirm that the Pentagon program has been in existence since 2007 and was formed for the goal of collecting and analyzing a wide range of "anomalous aerospace threats" ranging from advanced aircraft fielded by traditional US adversaries to commercial drones to possible alien encounters. The Defense Department says the program shut down in 2012, although Elizondo told The Times the only thing that ended in 2012 was ended was government's funding of the program.

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But this weekend's revelations are the first time the US Defence Department has admitted to funding research into the paranormal.

Elizondo said that the effort continued and that he had a successor, whom he declined to name.

The passionate phenomenon of UFO sightings and seekers has been around for decades, fueled by stories eye-witness accounts, including the famous story of a spacecraft that reportedly crashed in the New Mexico desert in 1947.

Numerous findings remain classified to this date.

Two years into the programme, Mr Reid said that the "extraordinary discoveries" made by the programme required "restricted special access".

"The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program ended in the 2012 timeframe", Pentagon spokesman Tom Crosson told CNN. In audio and video, the pilot is heard to exclaim: "There's a whole fleet of them".

Beyond preparing for the next field of battle, or advancing a massive arsenal that includes nuclear weapons, the Pentagon has also researched the possible existence of UFOs. Mr. Elizondo wrote in a resignation letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

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